GCPS Board Meeting Summary for January 13, 2005

The following are highlights of the January 13, 2005, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.

Board attends to annual business at start of new year
January is the month for the School Board to elect its officers for the new calendar year. Daniel Seckinger, who represents District II, was elected chairman for 2005, as the first order of business. Dr. Robert McClure, District IV representative, was elected vice chairman for 2005. In accordance with policy, the School Board reaffirmed its policies, designated the Gwinnett Daily Post as the official media organ for the school system, and approved retaining the services of Thompson & Sweeny as its legal counsel. In addition, Board members approved the meeting schedule for 2005. Adopted School Board meeting dates include January 13, February 10, March 10, April 14, May 12, June 23, July 14, August 11, September 8, October 13, November 10, and December 8.

School Board honors students and staff
-- The Board of Education recognized Level Creek ES visual art teacher Debi West on her recent recognition as 2005 National Elementary Art Educator of the Year. Mrs. West, Gwinnett County's 2005 Teacher of the Year, earned an additional honor on Thursday, January 13, when the state named her as one of 10 finalists in the Georgia Teacher of the Year competition. Level Creek ES Principal Linda Anderson introduced Mrs. West as one of Gwinnett's finest teachers, saying "She is passionate about learning and passes on this passion to everyone she works with-- both students and teachers." In her comments to the Board, Mrs. West said how honored she is to teach in Gwinnett County, a county that truly supports the arts.
-- School Board members honored Yuji Huang of Collins Hill HS, who was one of two students in Georgia selected to participate as a delegate to the United States Senate Youth Program. This program was created to help outstanding high school students broaden their knowledge and understanding of Congress and the legislative process. The program is supervised by the Senate Advisory Committee and is funded by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. As a state winner, Ms. Huang receives an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for an internship with the U.S. Senate (Feb. 26-Mar.5) and a $5,000 scholarship. Collins Hill HS Principal Glenn McFall thanked his school's social studies teachers for their leadership and shared a number of Ms. Huang's accomplishments and examples of her leadership at the local school level.
-- The Board saluted Brookwood HS' theatre arts students on their award-winning finish in the 8AAAAA one-act play state competition for their performance of "Into the Woods." Principal Jane Stegall shared some of her thoughts on the success of the program, giving particular credit to teachers Ken and Patty Lindhal who have been at the school for 22 years. She said, "I am a fan of this program and of these two teachers." Mr. and Mrs. Lindahl expressed pride in their students who made this performance a success, stating that the judges raved about this production. Students attending the meeting included Laura Bradley, Sarah Brewer, Taylor Chandler, Galen Crawley, Gretchen Gordon, Nick Gordon, Tyler Mathis, Eva Schultz, Rico Sisney, Ben Thorpe, Stephanie Williams, and Michael Wright.
-- Members of the Board recognized principals Calvin Watts of Annistown ES, Pagie Ryals of G.H. Hopkins ES, and Terry Watlington of Kanoheda ES on their schools' Title I recognition from the Georgia Department of Education. The Title I Distinguished Schools program honors elementary and secondary schools that make adequate yearly progress (AYP) for three or more consecutive years under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. As distinguished schools, these schools serve as models for schools with similar demographics that have been identified for improvement. Dale Robbins, executive director for School Improvement, introduced these principals, describing them as "strong, dynamic instructional leaders who successfully lead their schools." Mr. Watts accepted the Board's recognition humbly on behalf of the Annistown community, saying that their school sees challenges as strengths and their staff is dedicated to continuous improvement. In her comments, Ms. Ryals described her school as a culturally rich school where the staff turns barriers into positives. Saying it was a delight and honor to accept this honor, Ms. Watlington expressed appreciation for the additional support Kanoheda receives through the Title I program and emphasized their commitment to helping all students succeed.

Board issues short-term construction notes
The Board authorized the issuance and sale of $133 million in construction sales tax notes for the 2005 calendar year. These notes are issued as a temporary loan while waiting to receive revenue from the sales tax in 2005. Note proceeds will be used to pay expenses related to the 2002 capital projects program, which is funded by the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST). The notes will be retired on December 31, 2005. Similar notes have been issued since the sales tax program has been in place, providing constant cash flow for capital projects and allowing the school system to maximize its investment opportunities.

School Board to pursue financing for advance purchase of school buses
The Board authorized the pursuit of Georgia Municipal Association financing for the advance purchase of school buses for the 2005-06 school year. The Board has participated in the pool from inception, and currently has approximately $5.1 million available for draw. If the GMA financing option is exercised, approximately $5.2 million will be drawn down to fund the purchase of school buses. The Board will repay the loan, plus interest, over a seven-year period. The annual principal and interest payments will total approximately $5.8 million over the life of the withdrawal. The advance purchase of these buses will allow for delivery before the beginning of the 2005-06 school year.

Citizens addressing the Board...
- Faye Caldwell